FIA Lurani Trophy Round 6; Dijon Motors Cup: 12 – 14th October 2018

It promised excitement, and it delivered excitement!

The autumn sun shone warmly on the undulating track, venue for the 6th and final round of the 2018 Lurani Trophy season, and 4 drivers were still in contention for the title! Daniele Salodini (Taraschi) and Colin Nursey (Lotus 18) were on equal points at the top of the table, with Bruno Weibel (Lotus 22) and Pierre Guichard (Lynx T3) also in with a chance.

A more than capacity entry of 42 Formula Juniors arrived at Dijon, luckily all being able to qualify, using the 20% extra rule over and above the 35 race starters limit. We also had a backup plan for all to race, as our Historic F3 1000cc friends had a grid too, with space to spare, so all FJ reserves were double entered for the weekend, enabling them to start in whichever grid they fitted.

The paddocks at Historic Race Meetings are not too dissimilar to those of modern ones when you see the HGV’s lined up, and backed up, to the garage entrances, but FJ is still so very glad that we were able to welcome more than a quarter of the entries from drivers with family/friends who towed and fettled themselves.

Friday morning testing saw a large number of FJ out to learn and refamiliarise themselves with track and car alike.  Unfortunately, it was also the end of play for the Caravelle MK 3.  A driver change however for Lackford’s Elva 100 entry saw James Hicks back out again for the races, and having his front engined debut.

Qualifying followed mid afternoon with drama right at the start as both Tom de Gres (Stanguellini) and Daniele Salodini (Taraschi) had problems getting going.  Finally both were out on track, but it was Graeme Smith (Taraschi) who led the way in Class A, with Salodini in 2nd.  Colin Nursey meanwhile was also running 2nd in his Class, C, but on the last lap pipped Christian Lange (Envoy Mk 1) to head the times.  No less excitement up front too, and a thrilling couple of races in prospect, with Bruno Weibel and Manfredo Rossi Di Montelera’s times showing the dual from Zandvoort would be back on, this time with Pierre Tonetti (Brabham BT6) enjoying a trouble free experience with his engine, and claiming pole, only though after Manfredo’s fastest time was deleted for a track limits infringement.

Race 1 on Saturday afternoon was as good as they get! The front three were almost nose to tail throughout, Weibel ahead at the beginning, Rossi Di Montelera then picking up the baton, before Tonetti seized his chance when it mattered, to win by just 0.4 sec.

Colin Nursey made it count too, as when Lange went wide on the penultimate lap, he was within reach to take the Class lead.

It was just as close throughout the field too, Pierre Guichard just taking Class D from Robin Longdon (Lola Mk 3), but they’d been in a much bigger pack with Caroline Abbou Rossi Di Montelera (Brabham BT6), Chris Merrick (Cooper T59), Andrea Guarino (Lotus 22) and the flying Class B Condor S II of Alex Morton.

Sadly for Salodini though, the fairlytale slipped further from reach. With a smile on his face post race, he told the tale of the failure of the €5 water pump belt he’d just put in new for the event. Cruel luck, but he wasn’t out yet.

Post race, we enjoyed a wonderful social catered by Penny, and hosted under the Longdon awning, swapping tales over pate, cheese and the odd drink, before joining an event social above the garages, where retiring HSCC CEO Grahame White was presented a ‘best partner’ award from HVM Racing’s Laurent Vallery-Masson.

So it all came down to Sunday morning, and the reserves all got a start this time, after some overnight precautionary withdrawals to avoid rebuilds and repeat issues.

Pierre Tonetti was very much in the driving seat to take a second win of the weekend, but it was no less close behind, as more incredible racing unfolded!

Attention was definitely split though to see what was happening behind. Salodini was back on mechanical form, but braking too late on lap 1 Smith caught the nose of de Gres and dropped them both back to play Class catch up. Meanwhile Nursey had made the start he needed, and led Lange for the first two laps, but Lange was also in it to win it, and by lap 3 was back ahead. They remained on the limit in a dual the whole race, until history repeated itself and a Lange error saw Nursey through on the penultimate lap. With the 10 aggregate points in the bag, to Salodini’s 8, Colin was deservedly crowned the 2018 FIA Lurani Trophy Champion.

The only class to still be decided was Front engined B, and Duncan was delighted to clinch it, despite an early retirement in R1 with Alex taking the event Class double.

16 nationalities and 84 competitors from across the World made it the very season it was, long may the memories and friendships continue, and the spirit remain.